The city of New York will face a second legal challenge to a controversial law imposing new requirements on crisis pregnancy centers.
Attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit against the city on March 18, representing Boro Pregnancy Counseling Center, Pregnancy Care Center of New York, and the Good Counsel maternity home.
Their lawsuit states that the centers seek to offer “free, non-medical, non-commercial assistance to women,” and claims that Bill 371-A would force them “to recite government-mandated speech, to be priced out of advertising to women in need, and to face fines, closure and jail time.”
The law requires crisis pregnancy counseling centers to make a series of 10 different disclosures in English and Spanish, in their advertizing, literature and interactions with clients. The centers will be required to indicate whether they provide abortion and contraception or makes referrals for those services, and whether or not there is a licensed medical provider on site.
If pregnancy centers fail to include these disclosures, they may face a $1,000 fine for the first day of violation and up to $2,500 for each subsequent day. A center that violates the disclosure law three times within a two-year period can be shut down by the city government and police, with consequences that could include imprisonment.
Matt Bowman, legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said pregnancy centers were being “punished by political allies of the abortion industry,” for their work on behalf of women and children.
“Attacks on pregnancy centers are an ideologically motivated attempt to distract from the growing national scandals in the abortion industry,” said Bowman. “For years, abortionists have preyed on women and girls for profit. Now pro-abortion politicians are trying to give women fewer choices.”
“At a time when New Yorkers believe the city’s abortion ratio to be too high,” he stated, “it’s absurd to see the city work with pro-abortion groups to ensure that the public is ‘protected’ from the ‘threat’ of these compassionate, caring, nonprofit groups.”
Another group of pregnancy centers, Expectant Mother Care, is suing the city with the assistance of the American Center for Law and Justice.
Before signing the bill into law on March 18, Mayor Michael Bloomberg reportedly said he was unsure whether or not it was constitutional. Federal court decisions in January and March recently overturned similar laws forcing pregnancy centers in Maryland to make a series of disclosures.
But Bloomberg said he was signing the bill with a “clear conscience,” and that those who objected to the new law were free to challenge it in court.